If you follow " Mama Africa Catering" on Instagram, you may have seen a post regarding a well balanced South Sudanese dish consisting of Mula Adas ( Lentil soup), chicken, salad, rice, Kisera ( flatbread), and Mandazi ( African donut).
During my recent studies in my public health classes, I researched many aspects of what immigrants and refugees go through when they enter a foreign land that is different than their own. One thing that stood out was their need to keep their cultural dishes alive no matter where they are at. Even though some of the dishes may differ since they do not have the exact same ingredients as the place they fled from, there are still some similarities.
Because of this, the need and desire to eat these meals are outside of the knowledge of foods that actually aid in health and not just for enjoyment. When neighbors and friends enter into a South Sudanese home, they don't just leave empty handed or even hungry. Hospitality is one of the important traits that South Sudanese people carry. When entering their homes, you'll be greeted with water, juice, or tea to start with, following with a meal that the mom prepared that day. These meals are sometimes filled with carbs and sugars ( tea and African donuts).
Having these meals every day is not always ideal, but every now and then will not affect your health in the long run. Also, having a well balanced meal also does not affect your health in the long run because you're adding nutrients, vitamins and minerals in your diet through this balanced meal.
An example that I would like to provide is :
Entree- Addas , rice, or Kisra ( Lentil soup, rice, and flatbread).
Side Dish: Cucumber, tomato and lettuce salad with lemon vinaigrette
Dessert:Mandazi ( African Donut)
Lentil soup is a common dish that many Sudanese refugees enjoy, even if cooked with oil, you are still getting the benefits of lentils!
Some of the amazing benefits and nutrients in lentils are that it lowers blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood glucose. For those who have diabetes, lentils may improve your cholesterol levels. Lentils are easily enjoyed when cooked with oil but another way to consume this dish while cutting out extra fats ad oils is boiling the lentils with onions and spices until the water evaporates a little bit and enjoying it with flatbread or rice.
Many people avoid eating white rice because they believe its bad for your health, but in actuality, white rice has the same calories as brown rice but it also still has healthy benefits. Benefits in white rice is an excellent source of manganese, and also a good source of iron, niacin, riboflavin and B vitamins. Rice is a good carb source if you are pregnant especially, due to the iron, niacin and riboflavin in rice. If you have enjoyed a salad at a South Sudanese event, you'll notice that they make their own salad dressings which are always healthy consisting of lemon juice, salt, and a little olive oil.
Eating a well balanced meal is so important and it is also do-able while eating your favorite cultural dishes.